Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Torture Club - Are We In It?


In case you missed it there is a federal inquiry going on, right here and right now, into Canada's apparent involvement into the International Players Torture Club.

Alison has the story:

According to Ottawa, turning a blind eye to the torture of Canadian citizens abroad is just the price of doing business with the international intelligence community in the 'war on terror'.

CBC : "Human rights abuses are not necessarily enough to keep Canada from sharing information with security agencies overseas, Ottawa tells a federal inquiry on torture in a newly released submission.
Canada must maintain relationships with "non-traditional" allies, some of whom do not always treat people appropriately, in order to fight terrorism, says a government brief made public Thursday."

This astonishing submission was made last week to Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci's federal inquiry into the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, Canadians who allege they were tortured in Syria after Canada submitted a list of questions to Syrian authorites to be asked of them.


Let me get this straight.

If you're not actually doing the torturing, but you are sending questions to the torturers to be asked of the torturees while the torturers are torturing them, what does that make you exactly?

Or, more to the point, what would that make us?


An important question is why?

Why would we want to belong to the Torturer's Club?

I mean, why wouldn't we just invoke the words of that famous Marx guy (ie. Groucho, not Karl):


And then decline, given also that we are a signatoree to the UN Declaration Against Torture:

The prohibition on torture is absolute, Amnesty International says in a submission to the (federal) inquiry.

Canada is duty-bound under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, along with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

"Under no circumstances can Canada engage in activities that would render it complicit or otherwise participate, instigate, consent to or acquiesce in the use of torture," says Amnesty. "The prohibition is intransgressible" under any circumstance, "including in times of war or in the face of terrorist threats."

Well, according to Canadian officials, we have to do this because we are a 'net importer of information':

The federal (government) brief stresses that both CSIS and the RCMP require the assistance of foreign agencies to fulfil their security mandates since Canada is "a net importer of information."

Which, we would like to most humbly suggest, is nothing more than pure, unadulterated codswallop.

For all kinds of reasons, including the fact that torture, at least as a means of importing information that actually has value, does not work.

So, again - why?

Why are we willing to become a rogue nation that, if what is being said at this inquiry has even the tiniest grain of truth to it, is actively participating in barbaric acts of torture that can only lead to more, not less, extremism?

Well, Michael Byers, who was actually writing about our newly minted status as a rogue nation on climate change issues at the time, has an interesting take on this question:

Harper's Bush-like views extend beyond climate change. In July 2006, he described the far-reaching destruction of Lebanese infrastructure as a "measured" response to the abduction of an Israeli soldier, souring our relations with Arab states and precluding a diplomatic role for Canada in the Middle East.

He has also picked unnecessary quarrels with China over human rights, Russia over the Arctic and Iran over ambassadors, rather than seizing opportunities to constructively engage these increasingly important states.

In Afghanistan, Harper has stubbornly opposed negotiations with dissident groups, shown a casual disregard for the rights of detainees, and seems to view the mission mostly as a way of currying favour with the United States.

Why else would his defence minister, Peter MacKay, invite the U.S. ambassador along for a Christmas visit to Canada's troops in Kandahar?

Closer to home, Harper has refused to repatriate Omar Khadr, a Canadian child soldier arbitrarily imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. He has curtailed the practice of seeking clemency for all Canadians sentenced to death abroad. He's even sought to curtail the civil liberties of Canadians by extending our anti-terrorist laws – now, more than six years after 9/11.

In September 2003, the cover of The Economist showed a moose in shades under the banner Canada is `cool'. Can anyone imagine us earning the same accolade today?

Thanks to Harper, Canada has become the pliant instrument of a failed U.S. presidency. We are now, for all intents and purposes, a vassal state.

In other words, we have actually joined the International Players 'Bully Boy Gangbanger Consortium' (ie. the umbrella group that includes the 'Torture Club') for no good reason at all.

Unless, of course, that $0.01 you saved on your coffee this morning is a reason worth having your country turned into a vassally quisling over.


Written to new Bruce - 'Livin In The Future' you don't need to listen to the actual song - The 'Big Man walkin' and the spoken word intro, all of which takes about a minute, will do.
Thanks to WEB for pointing us towards Mr. Byers latest.
Our friend, and sometimes co-blogger 'Q', has an interesting take on the 'higher' (or 'lower' as the case may be) why here.


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